By Robbie Stout, VeloNews.com
Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) outsprinted Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) in the final stretch of Sunday’s Manhattan Beach Grand Prix criterium. Bahati’s teammate Kayle Leogrande hit two birds with one stone by towing Bahati into the final sprint and finishing third overall.
Successful Living teammates Curtis Gunn and Daniel Ramsey dominated the first half of the race. A three-man breakaway containing Gunn formed in the first lap, and when a prime was announced for the second lap, Gunn picked up the pace, leaving the other two to be caught by the peloton.
The second big attack came from Ramsey, who leapt out of the peloton with no followers. He settled into a very smooth-looking time-trial position and held the peloton at bay for more than five laps. Before being reeled in by the main group he was able to bag a few primes, including $500 cash.
Shortly afterward, Kirk O’Bee and John Murphy of Health Net-Maxxis attempted a two-man breakaway. They soon learned, as Gunn and Ramsey had, that Manhattan Beach’s hotdog-shaped course, with its long sweeping turns and coastal wind, was not conducive to successful breakaways.
A $1000 cash prime was announced with five laps to go. Immediately, the youngster from Australia, Jonathan Cantwell (Kahala-La Grange), unleashed a ferocious effort, holding on through the end of the lap to win the biggest prime of the day.
Gunn attacked once again with four laps to go and held onto a convincing lead until the final lap, when the top teams began to work for their sprinters.
With one lap remaining, Toyota-United formed a five-man train for Dominguez, sending him into the final 300 meters for what was intended to be his first win since a bad crash a few weeks ago.
But from the inside of the sweeping bend Leogrande slipped through with Bahati in his draft. Bahati put in a quick acceleration that carried him past Dominguez and Leogrande, allowing him to coast through the finish line with both hands held high.
Bahati came into the race knowing that breakaways would not succeed, and that the win would go to a strong team with an exceptional sprinter.
“The race win was a team effort,” he said. “When you have a game plan the best thing to do is to stick to it. You’ve got to have faith in your teammates and faith in yourself.”
Van Gilder extends winning streak
Laura Van Gilder (Team Cheerwine) earned prime wins and an overall victory. Nineteen-year-old track sprinter Malindi Maclean (Jazz Apple) surprised the field with a second-place finish, just in front of Shontelle Gauthier (Ultralink).
The elite women’s race maintained a fast pace, driven by constant attacks and attractive primes. Team Proman-Paradigm, led by Shelley Olds, put in a huge effort early in the race that strung out the bunch, shelling weaker riders.
Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Van Gilder took turns winning primes. But as with the men, their attempt at a two-woman breakaway taught them that the course did not favor even the strongest riders.
With two laps to go Cheerwine riders Rachel O’Connell, Catherine Cheatley, Benjamin and Van Gilder took the front and controlled the race. They hammered away for the remaining laps and positioned Van Gilder for what looked like an effortless sprint to the finish.
Manhattan Beach GP
1. Rahsaan Bahati, Rock Racing
2. Ivan Dominguez, Toyota-United
3. Kayle Leo Grande, Rock Racing
4. Antonio Cruz Discovery Channel
5. David McCook, Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast
6. Ricardo Escuela, Successful Living
7. Hilton Clarke
8. Jeremiah Wiscovitch, Rock Racing
9. Henk Vogels
10. Alexi Martinez, Successful Living
1. Laura Van Gilder, Cheerwine
2. Malindi Maclean, Jazz Apple
3. Shontelle Gauthier, Team Ultralink
4. Lara Kroepsch, Team Lipton
5. Anna Lang, Karl Strauss-SDBC
6. Shelley Olds, Proman-Paradigm
7. Amanda Eaken, Metromint Cycling
8. Elizabeth Galenti, America’s Dairyland
9. Jennifer Wilson, South Bay Wheelmen
10. Kara Vidaca, Bicycle Johns Serious Cycling